If you own or manage a hotel, you know all about the current bed bug epidemic. Whether or not you’ve seen one yourself, you’ve seen the news and heard the worries from your guests. Yet most hotels don’t have a plan of action for bed bugs. Don’t wait for disaster to strike; learn how to treat a hotel room for bed bugs today so you’re prepared for the worst tomorrow.
A bed bug infestation can be devastating to a hotel’s operation. The room in question needs to be inspected and treated as soon as possible. Traditional treatment methods involve follow-ups lasting for weeks, during which the room can’t be safely occupied. Plus, nearby rooms are at risk of the spreading bed bug population.
Hotels are one of the most common victims of bed bug infestations due to the frequent rotation of travelers. Act fast and get your rooms back in service using this simple plan to treat a hotel room for bed bugs:
Before you begin to treat a hotel room, there is some equipment you’ll need to gather. First, you’ll need a Tri-Flo bed bug heat treatment kit with the correct connection types available to the room. There are two packages available for rooms up to 325 square feet: the 110 Starter includes three 110-volt, 1,800-watt heaters, while the 220 Starter includes a single 220-volt, 5,000-watt heater.
The 220 Starter needs access to a 30-amp plug; if you don’t have access to that, the 110 Starter is a suitable alternative and only requires access to three 20-amp plugs. Note that the average residential outlet type is only 15 amps, so they won’t be able to provide enough power for these heaters, hence the slightly differently shaped outlets.
The Tri-Flo 500 Combo package combines a 5,000-watt heater with two 1,800-watt heaters. This is a much more potent solution intended for larger spaces, and will require access to both 110-volt and 220-volt power sources on independent circuits. A typical hotel room will have separate circuits for the bedroom and for the bathroom, and you can use appropriately rated extension cords to reach circuits in adjacent rooms. If your kit needs a 30-amp circuit, one may be in use with the room’s wall-mounted AC unit.
The Tri-Flo kits each come with a handheld laser thermometer, but you may prefer to use wireless temperature probes to more easily monitor the temperature in various parts of the room. Ideally, you’ll have at least two wireless probes available: one for an open-air spot in the room and another for an insulated part of the bed.
In addition to the heat treatment kit, you’ll want to have some other gear handy as well to effectively treat a hotel room. All smart bed bug treatments should start with an inspection, so some basic inspection tools such as a flashlight and magnifying glass can help. After the heat treatment, you’ll need a set of mattress encasements, box spring encasements, and ClimbUp Interceptors for each bed in the room, if they aren’t protected already. You’ll also need a set of residual sprays that are labeled for the surfaces in the room, such as CrossFire Aerosol or JT Eaton Plus.
Begin by inspecting the room, if you haven’t already, to gauge the severity of the infestation. Remove the sheets on the side of each bed in the room and inspect along the seams and underside of the mattress for the following signs:
Fecal Spots are signs of bed bug waste. These look like thin black streaks, and can be seen on sheets and upholstered furniture.
Shed skins are left behind when a bed bug molts, a sure sign that they are progressing through the five instar phases to maturity. Like other insects, bed bugs have an exoskeleton that needs to be replaced by a larger shell as they grow. If you find these golden shells, you’ll know that bed bugs have been reproducing nearby.
Blood spots are dark and red and can be found where bed bugs have been crushed by a moving person or other activity that would open their stomach, releasing the freshly-consumed blood meal.
Bed bug eggs are milky white and about the size of a grain of rice. These are usually deposited two to five at a time, and will be dropped every day while a female is pregnant.
Bed bugs themselves are dark reddish brown, and will grow to about the size of an apple seed (roughly five millimeters). They have six legs, short antennae, and no functioning wings. Their big, segmented abdomen have tiny hairs that give the illusion of dark bands.
Inspect the box springs as well, including the corner guards, which are a popular hiding spot for bed bugs. Move slowly and carefully; if you rush this job, you might miss important signs. Once you’re done with the main sleeping area, expand from there to nearby furniture and flooring. Keep moving further and further away until you’ve covered the whole room.
Reduce clutter in the room to reduce hiding places and speed up the heating process. Things like clothes, books, drawer contents, and small electronics should be sealed in garbage bags and stored away from the room. Remove any couch seat cushions and lean the mattress and box spring upright against the wall.
Open any dresser drawers and closet doors to ensure adequate heatup inside and out. Pre-heat the room by setting the thermostat to the highest setting available, ideally 90 degrees or more. Help seal the heat in the room by ensuring the windows are completely shut.
Place the heater units around the bed and other key treatment areas so that they heat up first. Turn the heaters on the high setting and monitor the room’s temperature until it hits roughly 106 degrees. The kits include a handheld laser thermometer to help with this.
Once the room temperature has reached about 106 degrees, place the included fans in the room to provide heat circulation. Point the fans at the most heavily infested areas and turn them on the high setting. This will accelerate the convection effect, allowing the overall temperature to rise over the lethal 121 degrees we’re shooting for.
Monitor the room’s temperature until it hits around 130 degrees for 2 to 4 hours, depending on the level of infestation. This temperature will be uncomfortable to stay present in, so check in every 30 minutes or so with the included laser thermometer.
After the heat treatment is finished, you’ll want to follow up with a residual spray application. Look for sprays labeled for the surfaces in the room, such as CrossFire Aerosol or JT Eaton Plus. Then apply bed bug proof mattress encasements, box spring encasements, and ClimbUp Interceptors if the bed didn’t have those already. This will help prevent bed bugs from reaching your guests in the bed, and will make it easier to routinely check for bed bug activity.
Note: Be sure to launder the encasements with the rest of the bedding every few months – wash using a fabric-safe setting and a detergent that doesn’t include bleach, then tumble dry on the low heat setting to prevent damaging the waterproof membrane.